Golf Story Review
Judging by Golf Story’s credits, the game was developed by a team about the same size as my immediate family. Otherwise there is no other indication that the game was made by only a few people – the gameplay is terrific, the production values are high, and the story is a charming collection of strange and funny characters. There are a few hiccups along the way, but Golf Story is a fantastically unique game that delivers a terrific golfing mechanic wrapped in charming fun.
The actual golfing in Golf Story is fantastic, which is important because practically everything you do in the game involves golf. Hitting the ball is the same as any other three-hit system (one to start the swing, one for power, and a third for accuracy) and you can also put spin on the ball or place a mark on the power meter in order to make a perfectly weighted shot. The system is extremely easy to understand and gives the player a ton of control over their shots. This makes golfing by itself easy, but Golf Story’s courses are what really bring the challenge. Their fairways are unbelievably narrow, hazards are lying everywhere, and the wind can change dramatically each hole. Golf Story straddles perfectly the line between player control and variability. The game is easy enough that you don’t get frustrated, but delivers a challenge that requires focus and attention to each shot. The only exception to this is the putting, whose system gives little information to the player and leads to frustration.
In Golf Story, you play a golfer who is hoping to turn professional despite the odds against him. There’s a comedic tone to the entire game, with short dialogue and cutscenes coming off as silly, and the story delivers a lot of weird characters and charm. You’ll complete quests and enter tournaments in order to win money, which in turn can buy you new clubs with unique attributes and shot trajectories, as well as experience points that let you upgrade aspects of your golf shots such as power and ball spin. The upgrade system grants some noticeable changes in how far you can drive or how well you can spin the ball, but it is not so deep that one player’s character will feel vastly different from someone else’s. The golf clubs on the other hand, can often make a big difference on how you hit shots especially given how ludicrously challenging some of the courses are.
While I did enjoy Golf Story immensely, it has a few small issues that affect gameplay. The biggest one is putting, a major weak link of the gameplay, which doesn’t give the play enough control and ends up being frustrating as it becomes more challenging. Other issues like not being able to quit out of a challenge once you know who have failed and problems with the camera not zooming out enough when you are on a course don’t have as big of an impact on enjoyment. One disappointing mode missing from Golf Story is multiplayer. The gameplay of Golf Story is perfect for challenging a friend and I was sad to see that my enjoyment of the game wouldn’t be able to spill over to a multiplayer aspect. Even so, Golf Story remains a wonderful single-player experience from a tiny team in Australia. The game is roughly 10 hours long, and I enjoyed every minute of it.